Browse Definitions:
Definition

scatter plot

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

A scatter plot is a set of points plotted on a horizontal and vertical axes.

Scatter plots are important in statistics because they can show the extent of correlation, if any, between the values of observed quantities or phenomena (called variables). If no correlation exists between the variables, the points appear randomly scattered on the coordinate plane. If a large correlation exists, the points concentrate near a straight line. Scatter plots are useful data visualization tools for illustrating a trend. 

Besides showing the extent of correlation, a scatter plot shows the sense of the correlation:

  • If the vertical (or y-axis) variable increases as the horizontal (or x-axis) variable increases, the correlation is positive.
  • If the y-axis variable decreases as the x-axis variable increases or vice-versa, the correlation is negative.
  • If it is impossible to establish either of the above criteria, then the correlation is zero.

The maximum possible positive correlation is +1 or +100%, when all the points in a scatter plot lie exactly along a straight line with a positive slope. The maximum possible negative correlation is -1 or -100%, in which case all the points lie exactly along a straight line with a negative slope.

Correlation is often confused with causation, either accidentally (as a result of false or unproved hypotheses) or deliberately (with intent to deceive). However, in the pure sense, while a scatter plot can reveal the nature and extent of correlation, it says nothing about causation.

This video from RodCastMath explains more about negative and positive correlation on a scatter plot.

See also: graph theory, pictograph, bar graph, point-to-point graph, sparkline, time series chart

This was last updated in December 2012

Continue Reading About scatter plot

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

SearchSecurity

  • evil maid attack

    An evil maid attack is a security exploit that targets a computing device that has been shut down and left unattended.  An evil ...

  • Common Body of Knowledge (CBK)

    In security, Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) is a comprehensive framework of all the relevant subjects a security professional ...

  • rootkit

    A rootkit is a program or, more often, a collection of software tools that gives a threat actor remote access to and control over...

SearchHealthIT

  • value-based healthcare

    Value-based healthcare, also known as value-based care, is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing ...

  • health informatics

    Health informatics is the practice of acquiring, studying and managing health data and applying medical concepts in conjunction ...

  • clinical trial

    A clinical trial, also known as a clinical research study, is a protocol to evaluate the effects and efficacy of experimental ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • crisis communication

    Crisis communication is a method of corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event to provide them with ...

  • Zerto

    Zerto is a storage software vendor that specializes in enterprise-class business continuity and disaster recovery in virtual and ...

  • crisis management plan (CMP)

    A crisis management plan (CMP) is a document that outlines the processes an organization will use to respond to a critical ...

SearchStorage

  • SSD write cycle

    An SSD write cycle is the process of programming data to a NAND flash memory chip in a solid-state storage device.

  • data storage

    Data storage is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical ...

  • hard disk

    A hard disk is part of a unit -- often called a disk drive, hard drive or hard disk drive -- that stores and provides relatively ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close